New York Songlines: 45th Street

12th Ave | 11th Ave | 10th Ave | 9th Ave | 8th Ave | 7th Ave | Broadway | 6th Ave |
5th Ave | Madison | Vanderbilt | Lexington | 3rd Ave | 2nd Ave | 1st Ave


HUDSON RIVER









S <===         12TH AVENUE               ===> N

South:











W

4
5
T
H

North:







603: Penthouse Executive Club, upscale topless lounge


S <===           11TH AVENUE           ===> N

South:











W

4
5
T
H

North:












S <===           10TH AVENUE           ===> N

South:

440: Red Zone, disco featured in Godfather III and Quiz Show

414-422: This is the old Sweets Company of America factory, where Tootsie Rolls were first mass-produced (starting in 1905) and the Tootsie Pop was invented. (You can still see the fading words "Tootsie Roll" on the chimney.) Now houses IMG World, a marketing company co-founded by Arnold Palmer.

W

4
5
T
H

North:




The mid-block playground here has Mexican-inspired murals by Arnold Belkin that go back to 1973, and mosaics from 1974 by Philip Danzig. The park was the site of the Capeman Murders in 1959.



S <===           9TH AVENUE           ===> N

South:

Film Center Building

Corner (630 9th Ave): A 1929 Art Deco landmark by Ely Jacques Kahn, particularly noted for its beautiful lobby. Houses several film and video companies, like Cypress Films, the Digital Film Academy and CitiCam Moondance. On the northern corner is Jezebel, a pricey, elaborately decorated Southern restaurant.

332: Was Billy Haa's Restaurant; at 9:15 pm on August 6, 1930, Judge Joseph F. Crater left here, got into a cab and was never seen again.

330: Town House is a 12-story red-brick building from the 1960s.

320: Private Eyes, strip club and sports bar at the same time.

Al Hirschfeld Theatre

302: Renamed for the legendary Broadway caricaturist, it was originally called the Martin Beck, after the producer who built this Romanesque fantasia in 1924. Housed the Broadway premiers of The Devil and Daniel Webster, My Sister Eileen, On the Town, The Iceman Cometh, The Crucible, Sweet Bird of Youth, Bye Bye Birdie, Oliver!, Marat/Sade, Man of La Mancha, Into the Woods--among many others. In the 1930s, it was home to the Theatre Guild Studio.

Corner (715 8th Ave): Beefsteak Charlie's

W
E
S
T

4
5
T
H

S
T
R
E
E
T

North:






341: Hildona Court, built in the early 20th Century, is now a residential hotel.

325: Whitby apartments, built in 1934 as a residential hotel, are named for a Yorkshire resort town. The Andrews Sisters were living here (with their parents) in 1937, when their first big hit, "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon," was released. Doris Day, Joe DiMaggio and Betty Grable have also been residents.

323: Triton Gallery features Broadway posters and postcards.

317: Longacre House, a women's residential hotel. Times Square was called Longacre Square, after a street in London's theater district, before 1904.

305: Astor Apartments, built around 1900, earned architects Tracy and Swarthwout a design award from the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The land was owned by the Astor family, and the Astor Theatre was just down the street.

301: Kodama, affordable sushi, is in The Camelot, 1960s apartment building. (The musical opened in December 1960.)


S <===           8TH AVENUE           ===> N

South:

Milford Plaza

Corner (700 8th Ave): Opened in 1929 as the Lincoln Hotel. Houses the Celebrity Deli and Garvey's Irish Pub.

Golden Theatre

252: The John Golden Theater, completed in 1927, is one of several designed by Herbert J. Krapp on this block--and the best of the bunch. Originally called the Theatre Masque, it was bought in 1937 by producer John Golden, who renamed it after himself. (Earlier, he briefly owned the Royale next door, and renamed it for himself as well.) Tobacco Road opened here; Angel Street played here for years. It's the first theater featured in the film All About Eve.

Jacobs Theatre

242: Built by Krapp in 1926-27 as the Royale Theatre, where Mae West had her star-making run in Diamond Lil in 1928. For a time it was Columbia Broadcasting's Radio Theater No. 1. It later saw the Broadway bows of The Night of the Iguana, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Copenhagen. It was renamed for Shubert Organization president Bernard B. Jacobs in 2005.

Schoenfeld Theater

236: Built as the the Plymouth Theatre in 1917, this was the first of the theaters that Herbert J. Krapp designed for the Shuberts. The Skin of Our Teeth, The Odd Couple, Equus, Dancing at Lughnasa and Passion bowed here. Renamed for Gerald Schoenfeld, longtime chair of the Shubert Organization, in 2005. I guess it beats renaming a historic theater after a car company, but it's still plenty tacky.

Booth Theatre

222: Designed by Henry B. Herts, built in 1913. Named for Edwin Booth, New York's leading Shakesperean of an earlier era, and the brother of John Wilkes Booth. You Can't Take It With You and Sunday in the Park With George premiered here.


S <===   SHUBERT ALLEY

Astor Plaza

mtv by azizk, on Flickr

Corner (1515 Broadway): Best known as the location of MTV's studios, this 1969 Kahn & Jacobs building was allowed to grow to 50 floors because it added theatrical space--The Minskoff, named for the skyscraper's developer. (Sunset Boulevard and The Scarlet Pimpernel had their debuts here.) Next to Normal by Orignaux Moose, on Flickr

On the ground floor at the corner with Shubert Alley is Junior's, the Theater District incarnation of the Brooklyn standard, famous for its cheesecake. Opened here in 2006.

The building replaced its namesake, the Astor Hotel, a well-loved Times Square landmark. Built in 1904 by William Waldorf Astor, the hotel housed such celebrity residents as Toscanini, Will Rogers, Jimmy Durante and Carmen Miranda. It was here, according to Cole Porter, that Mimsie Starr got pinched in the Astor Bar. It was also, on January 23, 1931, the setting of the Beaux Arts Ball, a costume party for architects including Ely Jacques Kahn and William Van Alen, who came dressed as his Chrysler Building; missing this party was one of the reasons that the lady was a tramp.

W
E
S
T

4
5
T
H

S
T
R
E
E
T

North:

269: Frankie & Johnnie's Steakhouse opened here as a speakeasy in 1926; Babe Ruth and Al Jolson are said to have been regulars.

263: Sam's, a rustic restaurant popular with chorus girls and boys.

259: Puleo's Too, Italian

251: Was Columbia Broadcasting's Radio Theater No. 2. Now Off-Broadway Theater Information Center.

Imperial Theatre

249: This 1923 theater's interior was designed by Krapp. It saw the launches of Annie Get Your Gun, Gypsy, Oliver!, Fiddler on the Roof, Pippin and Les Miserables.

Music Box Theatre

239: Irving Berlin had this Federal Revival theater built in 1920, to a C. Howard Crane and E. George Kiehler design, for his Music Box Revue of 1921. It was also home to The Man Who Came to Dinner, Dinner at Eight, Of Thee I Sing, Of Mice and Men and Bus Stop.

227: Was the Piccadilly Hotel in 1939.

217: Site of the Morosco Theatre, designed by Herbert J. Krapp in 1917 and named by the Shuberts for manager Oliver Morosco, who helped them break the Theatrical Syndicate monopoly. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opened here in 1955, Blithe Spirit in 1941. Demolished 1982 for the Marriott.

209: Site of the Bijou Theatre, a French Renaissance house designed by Krapp for the Shuberts in 1917. It went back and forth between legitimate theater and movies. As the former, Life With Father and Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten both debuted here; the film The Red Shoes played here for more than two years on its first run. In 1965, it became the Toho Cinema, which played Japanese movies ranging from Kurosawa to Matango, Fungus of Death. Demolished 1982.











New York Marriott Marquis

dsc01681 by Adam Comerford, on Flickr

Corner (1535 Broadway): When this glitzy mammoth was built in 1981-85--the first major new hotel in Times Square in 75 years--it destroyed five classic theaters: the Astor, Bijou, Gaiety, Morosco and the old Helen Hayes. (It did add one new one--the Marquis.) This wanton destruction led to a wave of landmarking in the Theater District. Up by kirbyfest, on Flickr

The hotel's design is by John Portman, noted for similar hotels around the country. The atrium/elevator column is pretty spectacular, I have to admit.

The facade of the hotel features a huge electronic sign for Bank of America, and an enormous ad for Kodak.

In the movie True Lies, Arnold Schwarzenegger rides a horse on this building and almost falls off the edge.

Corner (1537 Broadway): The Astor Theater, once on this corner, was in 1948 the site of Babe Ruth's final public appearance, to attend the premiere of The Babe Ruth Story.


S <===           TIMES SQUARE           ===> N

South:

I thought of you, Laura by jerekeys, on Flickr

Corner (1528 Broadway): This block--which has a Swatch outlet on the north corner--has long been famous for its signage-- from 1936 until 1942, Wrigley's had a block-long sign here featuring giant neon fish and the "Wrigley's Spearman." This was replaced, from 1948 to 1954, by the Bond Clothiers sign, a neon spectacular that featured two 7-story nude figures (later clothed in neon after complaints from the Hotel Astor) and an actual waterfall with 50,000 gallons of recirculating water. Pepsi took over the spot, turning the giants into giant bottles, and an illuminated clock into a bottlecap. Today the site features relatively mundane ads for Liz Claiborne and Jockey underwear. Toys R Us Times Square by aa440, on Flickr

The building below the sign has been known as the Bond Building (after the clothing store) and the Bow-Tie Building (for its peculiar Times Square shape). In the 1980s, there was a large disco called Bond's here. Today there's an Italian restaurant called Bond 45.

From 1895 until 1935, this was the site of Oscar Hammerstein's Olympia Theater, the first theater above 42nd Street. The huge complex sat 6,000 people--too big to survive being too early for Times Square's heyday. The rooftop garden, the Jardin de Paris, was the first home of the Ziegfeld Follies.

128: Here was the Peppermint Lounge, allegedly the site where the Twist craze started in 1961, but Chubby Checker had actually popularized the dance on American Bandstand a year earlier. The club did, however, introduce the Jet Set to the gyrating fad; The Beatles stopped in to check out the scene in 1964. "Peppermint Twist" was the club's theme song.

120: My Most Favorite Dessert Co., kosher goodies. In 1939, this was the address of the Knickerbocker Hotel.







108: Trinity School was located here from 1890 to 1895.

104: Address of the Hesper Club, a gambling house run by Herman "Beansie" Rosenthal, a mobster who in 1912 blew the whistle on the extortion attempts of Lt. Charles Becker of the NYPD. Becker had Rosenthal killed in a notorious hit that sent Becker to the chair in 1915.

Corner (1155 6th Ave): This 1984 design by Emery Roth & Sons features 40 stories of polished black granite.

W
E
S
T

4
5
T
H

S
T
R
E
E
T

North:

Bertelsmann Building

Bertelsmann Building by insuh, on Flickr

Corner (1540 Broadway): The U.S. headquarters of the German media conglomerate, which owns Random House and RCA records, among much else; better known as the home of the Virgin Megastore, billed as the world's largest record store. The post-modern blue-and-green glass structure, designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill, was put up between 1989 and 1990. The site used to hold the Loews State Theater Building, built 1920, and memorialized by the Loews State Theatre 4 in the basement. New York City by maxirafer, on Flickr

At the southwest corner of the Bertelsmann Building is the Times Square branch of Planet Hollywood. Formerly the Official All Star Cafe, a sports-themed restaurant.

Lyceum Theatre

149: A Beaux Arts masterpiece designed in 1902 by Herts & Tallant. One of the oldest Broadway theaters, the first to be landmarked, and the oldest continuously operated stage in New York. Named for a shrine to Apollo's sacred wolves in Athens.

145: O'Lunney's Times Square Pub, which had previous homes on 46th and 44th streets. This space was The Lobster, seafood restaurant noted in the 1939 WPA Guide ("about as good a medium-price shore dinner as you will find in New York," a 1940 restaurant guide declared. More recently Hamburger Harry's, popular burger joint.

123: Cabana Carioca, multilevel Brazilian

121: Connolly's Pub was Poliacoff's, kosher

119: The Big Apple Hostel

117: In 1911, Louis "Bridgey" Webber opened a faro house here, beginning the neighborhood's transition into a gambling district.

111: Was Pirolle-Pillet, French-American

109: Was the St. James Hotel

107: Was the address of the El Fey Nightclub, a speakeasy owned by Larry Fay and hosted by Texas Guinan that was raided in 1925. From 1908-16, this was the address of the Friars Club.

Americas Tower

Corner (1177 6th Ave): A 50-story post-modern office building with an Art Deco style, started in 1988 but not completed until 1994--the delay in part caused by litigation around the estate of Ferdinand Marcos, who was one of the project's backers.


S <===           6TH AVENUE           ===> N

South:

72: Little Italy Pizza, local chain

60: A reader recommends Park Italian Gourmet, longstanding deli.

Sofitel

44: The hotel where IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn allegedly assaulted a maid in 2011. Includes the French restaurant Gaby.

40: Was the Webster Hotel.

24: Bread & Olive, Mideastern noted for its grape leaves

12: Nation Restaurant & Bar




W

4
5
T
H

S
T

North:

25: Original offices of The Smart Set (1914-23),The New Yorker (1925) and Time. Smart Set helped discover Eugene O'Neill, James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald--and, through the criticism of H.L. Mencken, helped rediscover Twain, Conrad and Melville.

The Red Caboose, model trains, planes, cars, ships etc. is in the basement here, where there's been a hobby shop since 1946.

9: Eamonn's Restaurant & Pub

7: Re Sette ("7 Kings") serves some of the best food in the Times Square area. Corner (530 5th Ave): Bank of New York. This corner was earlier the site of the Church of the Divine Paternity, where on December 4, 1872, the funeral of Horace Greeley, owner of the New York Tribune, was held. President Grant was among the many notable attendees.


S <===           FIFTH AVENUE           ===> N

The Big Map has a photo tour of 45th Street from here to 1st Avenue.

South:

6: The Brearly School, a day school for girls, opened at this address in 1884.







Corner (350 Madison): Paul Stuart, stylish and expensive clothing for (mostly) men

E

4
5
T
H

North:

Corner (551 5th Ave): The Fred F. French Building, 1927 headquarters of the company that designed and built Tudor City. This was previously the address of the Church of the Heavenly Rest, built in 1868 to an Edward Tuckerman Potter design.

17: The address of Divan Parisien, described in a 1940 restaurant guide as "good French cooking at a moderate price"; it was opened by some of the staff of Delmonico's after that iconic restaurant closed in 1923. Chicken Divan originated here.


S <===           MADISON AVENUE           ===> N

South:















Corner (52 Vanderbilt): The Manhattan Savings Bank Building, a 20-story Warren & Wetmore Building completed in 1916. In the post-World War I era, it was one of the three locations of the Black Chamber, the U.S. codebreaking operation.

E
A
S
T

4
5
T
H

S
T

North:

Roosevelt Hotel

45 (block): Opened in 1924, designed by George B. Post & Sons and named for Theodore Roosevelt, who had died five years earlier. Guy Lombardo began his New Year's Eve concerts here in 1929, starting a tradition that moved to the Waldorf-Astoria in 1963. Republican candidate Thomas Dewey had his 1948 election headquarters here, where supporters celebrated his "victory" on election night. On January 11, 1962, the French Connection heroin pipeline was set up at a meeting under the awning here. It served as the exterior of the Dolphin Hotel in the film 1408 (though that was said to be located a couple blocks away). Owned by PIA, the Pakistan national airline.

Earlier this was the site of the Knickerbocker Athletic Club, associated with two notorious poisonings in 1898.


S <===           VANDERBILT AVENUE           ===> N

South:











E

4
5
T
H

North:












S <===           DEPEW PLACE           ===> N

South:

Pan Am Building

Current owner Met Life wants us to call it after them, but it'll always be the Pan Am--besides, there already is a Met Life Building, on Madison Square.

Noted for spanning Park Avenue--from the south, it can be seen from Union Square--and for the helicopter pad on the roof, no longer in use since a grisly accident in 1977 killed four passengers and a pedestrian on the ground. The rooftop was featured in the movies Coogan's Bluff and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.

E

4
5
T
H

North:

New York Central Building

230: The original name of this 1929 Warren & Wetmore building; when it was changed to ''New York General Building'' only two stone-carved letters needed to be altered. Later renamed the Helmsley Building by the Queen of Mean.

On September 10, 1931, capo de tutti capi Salvatore Maranzano was murdered in his ninth-floor office here by hitmen sent by Lucky Luciano and Vito Genovese, ambitious underlings whom Maranzano had hired Vincent ''Mad Dog'' Coll to kill.


S <===           LEXINGTON AVENUE           ===> N

South:

144: The address of Christ Cella's, described in a 1940 restaurant guide as "French and Italian cuisine, and marvelous steaks besides. Intimate atmosphere, and very expensive."

Corner: The haunted Dolphin Hotel in the John Cusack movie 1408 is located at this intersection--I think at this corner, though I'm not positive. The address given, which is something like 2254, would be just after Lexington ends at 131st Street--conveniently enough.


E

4
5
T
H

North:











Corner (720 3rd Ave): Teachers Insurance Building


S <===       3RD AVENUE       ===> N

South:

Corner (711 3rd Ave): This 1955 building, designed by William Lescaze, houses Crain Communications and Parade Magazine, the largest-circulation magazine in the country. Bridge Kitchenware was here before moving to New Jersey, replaced by a Japanese kitchen store.

214: From c. 1996-2010, was Comfort Diner, retro comfort food.

E

4
5
T
H

North:

Corner: Was M & N 45th Deli









S <===           2ND AVENUE           ===> N

South:





336: Uganda House

U.S. Mission to the U.N.

799 (corner): A perforated concrete shell surrounds this 1959 building, scheduled to be replaced.

E

4
5
T
H

North:

Corner: Delegate Apartments

325-333: The Lausanne apartments, built in 1970s and named for the Swiss city

335: The Republic of Korea--the southern one--has its U.N. mission here.






S <===           1ST AVENUE           ===> N

United Nations Headquarters

This land, formerly used by slaughterhouses, gas works and the like, was going to be developed by William Zeckendorf into a futuristic housing/retail complex called X-City. When that fell through, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. gave the U.N. the money to buy it for its headquarters, to spare New York the embarrassment of having the world organization base itself in Philadelphia instead.

Construction began in 1947, following the design of an international architectural committee, with Switzerland's Le Corbusier probably the most famous and influential member. The Secretariat Building, 544 feet high and only 72 feet thick, is counterbalanced by the General Assembly Building, where Nikita Kruschev banged his shoe on the table in 1960.

The shoreline here, during the Revolutionary War, was the site of a daring 1775 raid by Marinus Willett and his Liberty Boys on a small British armory; Willett became mayor of New York in 1807.





Is your favorite 45th Street spot missing? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

New York Songlines Home.

Sources for the Songlines.

Share